By Chimezie Godfrey
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami says Nigeria has been graded ‘A Status’ in the comity of national Human Rights Institutions.
He said this at the inauguration ceremony of the 5th Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday in Abuja.
Malami noted that the inauguration of the Council is pursuant to the directive of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and on behalf of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
He recalled that the Commission was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1995 in fulfillment of its international obligation pursuant to 20th Dec 1993 Resolution 48/134 of the United Nations General Assembly that enjoined all member States to establish National Human Rights Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
According to him, this followed the adoption of the Paris Principles of 1993 for the Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions at the 2nd World Conference on Human Rights in Paris 1993. The first world conference on human rights had been held in Vienna Austria in 1991.
He explained that the Government amended the NHRC Act in 2010 for its operational independence by entrenching the tenure of members and ensuring adequate funding and effectiveness of the Commission. Since the 2010 Amendment of the NHRC Act, members are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate before appointment letters are issued.
He disclosed that the funds of the Commission are now under the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation. This means that funds appropriated for the Commission are released one hundred percent to perform its functions.
Malami furthermore said that the 2010 amendment provided that in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its powers, the Commission shall not be under the control of any authority or person.
He stressed that all these measures have been taken to ensure that the Commission is able to advise the Government properly in the fulfillment of its international human rights obligations and protect and promote the human rights of Nigerians and persons living in Nigeria without fear or favor in line with the Paris Principles.
He pointed out that it is a known fact that the present government had complied with the award of damages for victims of the 2012 Apo killings of Okada riders by security agents, as well complied with the 2018 White paper recommendations on Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police.
He added that the disbandment of SARS and the setting up of Various panels of Inquiry investigating and awarding damages for human rights violations by SARS is a clear testimony to the fact that this government is fulfilling its international obligation to set up an independent National Human Rights Commission for the Promotion and protection of the rights of Nigerians.
He said,”I am happy to note that in recognition of the compliance of the Commission with the Paris Principles, the Commission has been graded with ‘A Status’ in the comity of national Human Rights Institutions by the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
“The Commission has affiliate status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. These give the Commission access to all necessary meetings at the UN and AU Levels.
“This is indeed gratifying and it (behoves) on the Governing Council to uphold and improve on the standard achieved by the previous Councils and the Management of the Commission before now.
“Council Members should be guided by the Act, and relevant Government Circulars on tenure, the part-time mandate of members except the Executive Secretary, emoluments etc.”
Malami reminded the Council members that they are bound by the Code of Conduct for Public Officials in the discharge of their duties, adding that they are expected to take an oath of office before the resumption of their duties.
He equally to commended the Executive Secretary, staff and Management of the National Human Rights Commission who have managed the affairs of the Commission pending the appointment and inauguration of this Council for holding the forth without blemish.
He also urged a cordial working relationship between the Management and the Council to ensure steady progress and achievement of greater heights for the Commission in the near future.